August 6, 2020 – Four Twenty Seven Report. Wildfires are complex physical phenomena that come at extraordinary costs to human and natural systems. Climate change is already making wildfires more severe and this new research finds that it will lead to more days with high wildfire potential in areas already prone to wildfires, and create hotter and drier conditions that will expose entirely new areas. Understanding which areas are exposed to changing wildfire conditions will help leaders in government, finance and public health to mitigate catastrophic loss. This report explores Four Twenty Seven’s new methodology for assessing global wildfire potential, identifying regional trends and hot spots.
The 2019-2020 Australian bushfires raged for seven months, killed more than 30 people, hospitalized thousands more,and burned more than 10 million hectares of land. While the full financial and ecological impact is still unknown, costs from those fires are likely to exceed $4.4 billion.Meanwhile, ten of the largest wildfires in Arizona’s history occurred in the last eight years and nine of California’s largest wildfires occurred in just the last seven years. Beyond direct losses and disruption from damage to buildings and infrastructure, air pollution from wildfires has led to healthcare costs in excess of $100 billion in losses per year in the United States.Leaders in government, finance, and public health need to understand how and where climate change will further heighten wildfire potential because of the serious threat wildfires pose to societies, economies, and natural systems.
This new report, Climate Change and Wildfires: Projecting Future Wildfire Potential, outlines Four Twenty Seven’s approach to quantifying global wildfire potential, capturing both absolute and relative changes in frequency and severity by 2030-2040. Wildfire potential refers to meteorological conditions and vegetative fuel sources that are conducive to wildfires. Using a proprietary methodology submitted for peer review, our analytics link climate drivers such as changing temperature and precipitation patterns with the availability of vegetative fuels to assess wildfire potential in the future.
The analysis also explores key regions exposed to increasing wildfire potential and discusses the implications for financial stakeholders and communities. Our analytics affirm common understanding about locations exposed to wildfire, providing an indication of the increasing severity and frequency of wildfires in areas already prone to these events. The report also offers insight into areas that may have less obvious exposure, but are likely to have higher wildfire potential over time. Preparing for wildfires is a local, and often regional effort. The relatively high spatial granularity of our results (~25 kilometers) enables decision-makers to evaluate wildfire potential at a useful scale.
Four Twenty Seven developed a first-of-its-kind global dataset projecting changes to wildfire potential under a changing climate, at a granularity of about 25 x 25 kilometers.
In areas already exposed to wildfires, by 2030-2040 climate change will prolong wildfire seasons, adding up to three months of days with high wildfire potential in Western Australia, over two months in regions of northern California and a month in European countries including Spain, Portugal and Greece.
New wildfire risks will emerge in historically wet and cool regions, such as Siberia, which is projected to have 20 more days of high wildfire potential in 2030-2040.
Globally, western portions of the Amazon and Southeast Asia will experience the largest relative increases in wildfire severity, further threatening crucial biodiversity hotspots and carbon sinks.
Confronting this new risk will take unprecedented resources and new approaches in regions not familiar with wildfires and worsening wildfire seasons will continue to threaten already limited resources in currently exposed areas.
Four Twenty Seven's monthly newsletter highlights recent developments in climate risk and resilience. This month we discuss the overlapping challenges of COVID-19 and climate hazards, share consultations on climate risk for financial stakeholders and highlight developments in climate risk at Moody's.
The Compounding Challenges of Climate Hazards and COVID-19
Climate Preparedness Takes on New Meaning - Four Twenty Seven Analysis
Last week in the Southern U.S., residents and policy-makers weighed the risks of high winds and flooding alongside the risks of spreading COVID-19, as many evacuated to storm shelters, and 750,000 people lost power across ten states from Texas to West Virginia. Meanwhile that same week 50,000 people in Connecticut lost power because of a storm, with restoration efforts complicated by COVID-19. The devastating human health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are exacerbated by climate hazards, which threaten communities around the world. Four Twenty Seven's new analysis explores exposure to floods, heat stress, hurricanes and wildfires in U.S. municipalities alongside the impacts of COVID-19 on the same regions.
Our analysis explores exposure to extreme rainfall in the Midwest and the particular vulnerability of essential services such as manufacturers of personal protective equipment and farmers, to disruptions due to floods. It discusses the human health implications of extreme heat and its particular threat to business continuity from power disruptions when business operations are dispersed across employees' homes. States like Louisiana and Florida are addressing COVID-19 while preparing for a busy hurricane season. Likewise, typical wildfire preparations have been delayed and canceled due to the pandemic, leaving states like California, Washington and Colorado particularly vulnerable to this year's wildfires.
Public Consultations on Climate Change in the Financial Sector
While the world is sheltering from COVID-19, regulators are moving forward with their goals to address climate change. There are currently several open consultations to gather industry feedback on new standards and reporting requirements.
EU Draft Minimum Standards for Climate Benchmarks
The European Commission is seeking feedback on draft standards for its "EU Climate Transition" and "EU Paris-aligned" benchmarks. The goals of the benchmarks are to increase transparency, help direct capital toward climate-friendly investments and prevent green-washing. Provide feedback by May 6.
FCA Proposal for Updated Climate Risk Disclosure
The UK Financial Conduct Authority is seeking feedback on its proposals to mandate climate risk disclosure for all commercial companies with premium listings. This requirement would build upon the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures recommendations and use a comply or explain approach.Respond by June 5.
Update to the EU Non-financial Reporting Directive
The European Commission is soliciting feedback on its non-financial reporting directive as part of its efforts to improve oversight of non-financial reporting in alignment with its Green Deal and a global call for a new approach to regulating non-financial disclosure.Provide feedback by June 11.
Consultation on Renewed EU Sustainable Finance Strategy
Moody's newESG and Climate Risk Hubcollates resources on climate risk and ESG from Moody's and its affiliates, including Four Twenty Seven. The platform includes solutions and insights to help investors, lenders and other stakeholders integrate climate risk into decision-making.
ESG Factors Frequently Cited as Material Credit Considerations
Out of almost 8,000 Moody's private sector ratings actions in 2019, about a third referenced material ESG considerations. Moody's Investor Service's new reportshares findings on how ESG considerations are factored into ratings actions.
Climate Risk News
New High Temperature Records Set
Last month was thehottest month on record for the world's oceansand the oceans' five hottest years have been within the last ten years. Warm oceans are connected to many climate hazards, ranging from hurricanes to wildfires. If the Atlantic remains warm during hurricane season, it's expected to contribute to stronger storms this year. Meanwhile, warm seas can pull rain from inland, contributing to drought associated with wildfire conditions. This occurred last year in Australia when the Indian Ocean was particularly warm off of Africa's coast.
These ongoing scientific findings on the dire rate of climate change, including new temperature records and updatedsea level rise projections, have significant financial implications. The Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) launched a newGlobal
Four Twenty Sevenwelcomes John as Senior Climate Data Analyst. John performs stochastic modeling of climate and weather data to advance Four Twenty Seven’s climate risk analytics. Previously, John worked on topics ranging from transportation economics in Los Angeles to particle physics at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. John monitored arctic mercury pollution in Norway as part of a Fulbright Fellowship, and received his Ph.D. at Caltech for his research on the ocean’s response to climate change.
Four Twenty Seven is Here to Serve our Clients
As COVID-19 has led to widespread disruption in businesses and personal lives, Four Twenty Seven remains committed to ensuring the safety of our staff and clients while also continuing to provide the same data, analysis and client support that we are known for. Our business remains open globally, with teams in the U.S., Paris, London and Tokyo working remotely. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us via email or on our cell phones.
An Update on Postponements and Cancellations:
Apr 28 – Afire Rising Leaders Summit, New York, NY: Chief Revenue Officer, Lisa Stanton, will speak - CANCELED
April 22, 2020 – Four Twenty Seven Analysis. The devastating human health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are exacerbated by climate hazards, which threaten communities around the world. This analysis explores exposure to floods, heat stress, hurricanes and wildfires in U.S. municipalities alongside the impacts of COVID-19 on the same regions. It discusses the compounding challenges for economies, infrastructure and human health and the importance of preparing for these overlapping disasters.
Introduction: Climate Preparedness Takes on New Meaning
Last week in the Southern U.S., residents and policy-makers weighed the risks of high winds and flooding alongside the risks of spreading COVID-19, as many evacuated to storm shelters, and 750,000 people lost power across ten states from Texas to West Virginia. Meanwhile that same week 50,000 people in Connecticut lose power because of a storm, with restoration efforts complicated by COVID-19 precautions. The threat of climate-driven extreme weather events takes on new meaning when standard responses such as evacuating to shelters conflict with guidelines for preventing the spread of the disease. The pandemic’s impacts have been compared to Hurricane Katrina hitting all 50 states. FEMA, which is leading the nation’s response, typically only battles disasters in a few states at once.
To ensure the safety of residents, many are typically urged to evacuate ahead of hurricanes and wildfires. However, crowded evacuation centers are prime conditions for diseases to spread. Authorities in several states are actively exploring the best responses to this challenge, considering options for increasing the capacity of evacuation centers, taking temperatures before admitting evacuees and booking blocks of hotel rooms as a last resort.
Hazards such as heat waves and wildfires pose human health risks that will contribute to already overwhelmed healthcare systems. Further, many communities rely on cooling centers and visit public spaces such as shopping malls to seek relief during summer months. Measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 include the closure of facilities such as libraries and malls that typically serve as cooling centers. During a time when residents are encouraged to stay in or near their own homes, a heat wave would pose new danger. However, measures to improve preparedness, such as ensuring that hospitals have back-up power generators, improving availability of virtual healthcare and seeking alternative sources of personal protective equipment, will help communities prepare for the impacts of climate hazards as well as the pandemic.
The economic consequences of the pandemic also exacerbate the challenges presented by climate hazards for cities and residents. For those individuals who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19-related closures, decreased income may make it difficult to acquire needed emergency supplies or pay to relocate to a safe haven. Local governments already reaching deep into their coffers and straining existing resources, may have trouble allocating emergency personnel and resources to evacuate residents and to rebuild after a disaster.
This analysis explores the regions of the U.S. that are particularly exposed to the climate hazards of floods, heat stress, hurricanes and wildfires and how this exposure may exacerbate existing challenges due to COVID-19.
Extreme Rainfall and Flooding
Devastating flooding last year disrupted lives, threatened livelihoods and contributed to 19 million acres of cropland going unplanted. Seventy percent of those acres were in the Midwest, which was sodden for months. Communities are bracing for new floods this year which are expected to be severe, though not as devastating as last year’s floods. Counties in the Midwest are among the most exposed to increasing extreme precipitation due to climate change in the next several decades (Figure 1), where these floods are likely to become a regular occurrence.
This year, inundation would exacerbate the existing challenges of containing COVID-19, while COVID-19 containment precautions would, in turn, make flood response more challenging. Midwestern states such as Michigan, Illinois and Indiana are among states with the highest number of COVID-19 cases relative to their populations. While less densely populated communities have fewer cases to date, many Midwestern counties such as Cook County in Illinois and Franklin and Hamilton Counties, in Ohio already have a significant number of COVID-19 cases. Likewise, smaller towns typically have fewer financial resources and fewer staff dedicated to emergency relief.
The economies of many Midwestern communities depend upon agricultural and manufacturing industries, which require manual labor and the physical presence of the employees. Some manufacturing facilities reopened to produce personal protective equipment, and farms and grocery stores are both considered essential. However, these industries are at heightened risk of disruption from employees falling ill, as seen at several meatpacking facilities across the country. Floods can exacerbate these challenges, inundating roadways, manufacturing facilities, farms, and even grocery stores, preventing healthy staff from getting to and from their place of employment and disrupting the movement of goods. These impacts can also threaten food security if they disrupt food supply chains.
NOAA predicts above-average temperatures for much of the country through July, with no regions expecting below-average temperatures. Exposure to extreme heat is concentrated in Missouri and western Illinois, fanning out across the Midwest and South and including several areas that have had high numbers of COVID-19 cases to date (Figure 2). For example, the metropolitan areas surrounding Chicago and Detroit have both been hard hit by COVID-19 and face moderate exposure to heat stress. The Southeast corner of Florida faces high numbers of COVID-19 impacts as well as high heat stress and a looming hurricane season.
It is currently unclear how warmer temperatures will affect the spread of the virus. However, heat waves hinder worker productivity and can lead to safety concerns for outdoor workers, such as farmers. In addition to their human health impacts, heat waves also lead to higher peak energy demand as use of air conditioning surges. If governments and businesses alike continue to require or encourage their employees to work from home, reliance on air conditioning and power will likely be higher this year than in typical summer months. Resulting power outages can disrupt business continuity, particularly with operations dispersed across employees’ homes.
While the spring is usually spent preparing for wildfire season, these preparations have been hindered this year. Annual efforts to remove brush have been postponed, while hiring has been delayed and annual trainings have been canceled. Fire agencies are going into this year’s season understaffed, with many firefighters already sick or quarantined. They are also wary of the dangerous conditions of base camps, where firefighters sleep in close quarters on the front lines.
The economic impacts of COVID-19 on employment and incomes will exacerbate the losses caused by wildfires and will likely lead to higher numbers of residents facing tough questions around whether or not to leave an area if they lose their homes. The resulting emigration or delayed rebuilding will in turn reduce local government revenues.
As COVID-19 continues to spread and its timeline remains unknown, each region of the country faces exposure to climate hazards which will complicate containment efforts. However, in a time when local jurisdictions and individuals are paying increased attention to disaster preparedness there is an opportunity to strategically prepare for climate hazards and invest in resilience that supports responses to any disaster. Hurricanes, wildfires, floods and heat waves are inevitable in our changing world, and the more proactive resilience-building that occurs, the better positioned communities will be to minimize the loss of lives and livelihoods.
March 26, 2020 – Four Twenty Seven Analysis. We leverage our global database of manufacturing sites to identify industrial plants that may be able to contribute to the production of personal protective equipment and medical equipment to address the global public health crisis. The data is available free of charge to state and national governments seeking to engage with manufacturers in their jurisdictions.
As COVID-19 continues to spread, states and countries experience shortages of essential first response equipment such as masks, hand sanitizer, ventilators and hospital beds. A few manufacturers in the perfume, automobiles and electronics sectors have responded by repurposing their facilities to produce equipment that will help deal with the public health crisis.
These companies demonstrate the potential for more widespread public-private partnerships during this global crisis. To support these efforts and encourage public-private partnerships, we leveraged our global database of corporate facilities to identify the companies that have facilities that may be repurposed to contribute to this effort.
Based on news coverage of companies that have announced efforts to repurpose their manufacturing facilities to support COVID-19 response efforts, we identified facilities within SIC industries that may be able to contribute. The table below provides the list of sectors included in our analysis. Note that many factors influence whether or not a specific facility can be repurposed, so this data is intended as an entry point for a dialogue and engagement with industry.
Starting with a database of about a million corporate facilities owned by large, publicly-traded companies, we identified 11,322 facilities globally in sectors of interest. 2,755 of these are in the United States. Below we provide examples of industries in the four states with the largest number of facilities based on this analysis, which are also among the states with the most diagnosed COVID-19 cases to date.
There are 57 manufacturing facilities owned by pharmaceuticals, biotechnology & life sciences companies in New York State, including 16 owned by Pfizer. In addition to having the necessary machinery and supplies, companies also need to address regulatory constraints around manufacturing different types of medical equipment. However, there are opportunities for businesses and governments to work together to identify appropriate exceptions to allow companies to support the urgent public health demands. For example, pharmaceutical company Roche recently got emergency approval to distribute high-speed coronavirus tests.
New Jersey and California have the second and third largest number of residents diagnosed with the virus and they each have 228 manufacturing facilities with the potential to be repurposed for COVID-19 response efforts based on their industries. Similar to New York, there are 160 facilities owned by pharmaceuticals, biotechnology & life sciences companies in New Jersey, with Pfizer, Merck and Johnson and Johnson representing the largest number. Likewise, there are 27 facilities owned by household and personal products companies, 10 of which belong to L’Oréal. New Jersey also has 21 chemical manufacturing facilities, which could potentially use their equipment to produce hand sanitizer or test kits depending on their equipment and resources.
California facilities that may be able to contribute include 29 owned by automobile and component companies. Those with more than one applicable facility include Autoliv Inc, Aptiv PLC, Ford, Tesla, Toyota and Honda. General Motors and Tesla have already begun producing ventilators, while Ford has said that it’s considering the possibility. The FDA has waived some approval regulations typically required of new ventilator manufacturers, which helps open the door for companies to step up. We also identified 18 facilities owned by textile and apparel manufacturers in California, such Adidas, Nike and VF Corporation that could potentially use their equipment to produce masks.
While medical-grade masks are made from specialized fabric that many fabric companies don’t usually have access to, there is already a collaborative effort between yarn spinner Parkdale Mills, Inc and textile companies such as Fruit of the Loom and Hanes brand to create a manufacturing supply chain for masks. This indicates the potential for other clothing companies to contribute to the efforts by producing masks or hospital gowns. There are also 137 manufacturing facilities owned by healthcare companies in California, which can potentially transition their production to materials directly relevant to the COVID-19 crisis. For example, Allergan and Pfizer both have 13 facilities across the state. Roche, discussed above, also has nine facilities in the state.
Michigan, the state with the fourth most COVID-19 cases as of March 26, has the largest number of manufacturing facilities owned by companies that may be able to produce response equipment. Out of 262 applicable facilities, the state has 181 owned by automobile and component companies, with 27 owned by Aptiv PLC, 26 owned by General Motors, and 24 owned by Magna International Equipment. The transformation of several other car manufacturing facilities into ventilator production centers shows the potential for these facilities to be repurposed.
As states and countries strive to identify the most efficient responses to an unprecedented global public health crisis, there is an opportunity to leverage existing capabilities. Understanding which companies may have tools that can help support response efforts can help inform conversations around addressing this crisis.
Four Twenty Seven is making the underlying data available free of charge to state governments, please send requests to Natalie Ambrosio, Director of Communications (email@example.com) if of interest.
This analysis was written with support from Lindsay Ross.
Four Twenty Seven's monthly newsletter highlights recent developments on climate risk and resilience. This month we discuss the implications of the COVID-19 crisis for climate change and share a new Moody's report on scenario analysis.
COVID-19 and Climate: Multifaceted Impacts
427 Analysis - A Public Health Emergency with Dire Economic Consequences and Several Implications for Climate
The unprecedented global public health crisis from COVID-19 has led to fears of a global recession, but also presents a range of implications for climate change. While COVID-19’s immediate impacts include emissions reductions, the longer-term impacts on climate action and resilience-building are more complex. Likewise, COVID-19 may provide insight into how prepared communities are for the increasing frequency of disasters and how financial institutions can prepare for sudden disruptions. Four Twenty Seven's new analysis explores several of these impacts, outlining topics to watch as we strive to understand the long-term implications and ensure the safety of communities and businesses.
The analysis highlights that short-term emissions reductions may be followed by economic stimulus packages favoring polluting industries. Yet, as companies adapt to remote work, there is the potential for longer-term behavior shifts that help reduce emissions. Meanwhile, communities around the world face various levels of restrictions, with impacts on climate negotiations and research. The COVID-19 pandemic increases the risk of business disruptions and compounds the public health risks of extreme weather events, making businesses and communities more vulnerable to climate impacts. The crisis also underscores the need for preparedness. The ways policy-makers, businesses and individuals respond to today’s public health emergency and the resulting successes and failures may provide lessons for responding to other multifaceted disasters, applicable to extreme weather events and natural disasters.
The transition risk approach is to explore sector-specific credit implications for two IEA emissions scenarios. For physical risk scenarios Moody’s will use data from Four Twenty Seven to provide a uniform starting point from which to explore the range of credit implications of different climate hazards across sectors. Since the climate takes years to fully respond to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, in the near-term the uncertainty in physical outcomes is not driven by policy changes, but rather by scientific uncertainty within the climate models. By grouping the outcomes of climate models within a single RCP into low, medium and high tiers one can explore the range of potential severity in climate hazards such as extreme temperature and precipitation. Register for free to read the analysis:
Four Twenty Seven welcomes Akiyo as Frontend Developer. Akiyo works on the climate risk application’s user interface, building out the platform and systems to serve a diverse client base. Previously, Akiyo developed web applications at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and has worked with Python and Flask on the backend. Her diverse background also includes process automation and systems engineering.
Four Twenty Seven is Here to Serve our Clients
As COVID-19 has led to widespread disruption in businesses and personal lives, Four Twenty Seven remains committed to ensuring the safety of our staff and clients while also continuing to provide the same data, analysis and client support that we are known for. Our business remains open globally, with teams in the U.S., Paris and Tokyo working remotely. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us via email or on our cell phones.
An Update on Postponements and Cancellations:
Mar 25 - 26 – Ceres Conference, New York, NY: Senior Analyst, Lindsay Ross, will attend. - WEBCAST
March 18, 2020 – 427 ANALYSIS. The spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has created a global public health emergency and catalyzed an economic recession. The crisis also has important implications for climate action and resilience-building. This analysis highlights several of these interacting factors.
The unprecedented global public health crisis from COVID-19 has led to a deteriorating global economic outlook, but also presents a range of implications for climate change. While COVID-19’s immediate impacts include emissions reductions, the longer-term impacts on climate action and resilience-building are more complex. Likewise, COVID-19 may provide insight into how prepared communities are for the increasing frequency of disasters and how financial institutions can prepare for sudden disruptions. This article will explore several of these impacts, outlining topics to watch as we strive to understand the long-term implications and ensure the safety of communities and businesses.
There is much more uncertainty on long term effects. On the one hand, this period of disruption will likely be followed by economic stimulus efforts, providing credits to industries with large emissions, such as steel, cement, and airlines, driving a rapid rebound in emissions. On the other hand, experts note that there is potential for the outbreak to shift travel patterns for the long-term, leading to more telecommuting as companies get acclimated to remote work. There is potential for permanently behavior changes that would have long term impact on oil demand and emissions. Whether or not governments focus on promoting a rebound in traditional energy or use this as an opportunity to catalyze a systemic shift to reduce emissions could be a key determinant in the impact on long-term greenhouse gas emissions.
Setbacks to Climate Action
It is evident that in the short-term ambitious climate policies are not a priority, as the attention of citizens and legislators turns to safeguarding communities and economies from the multifaceted impacts of COVID-19. Numerous climate-related events have been canceled, and in-person negotiations planned ahead of COP-26 have been delayed through at least April. The U.K. changed its generous environmental budget allocations and Spain stopped all legislative activity, with implications for climate action. While the European Union has announced a continued commitment to its Green Deal, meant to make the European Union climate neutral by 2050, the news has gotten limited attention due to the circumstances.
As increasingly severe travel and gathering restrictions begin to have rippling impacts, ongoing climate research is disrupted, including arctic research expeditions and several NASA projects. These studies include research on the ocean-atmosphere heat exchange, seasonal hydrology in the Mississippi River, and thunderstorms across the U.S. While NASA does not expect the delays to be detrimental to the projects, delays may range from several months to over a year. This may challenge efforts to ensure that the most current science underpins resilience-building efforts and climate progress.
Lessons Learned in Preparedness
A global pandemic is a well-rehearsed scenario in risk management, and institutions that had prepared and thought through implications of such an occurrence are faring better than those with less preemptive planning. For example, last October banks in Hong Kong underwent a stress test that simulated a pandemic, cyberattack and telecom breakdown happening concurrently. Now facing an actual pandemic, some banks are grateful for additional preparedness measures they had implemented due to the stress test. The COVID-19 crisis may in turn lead banks, other businesses and governments to identify opportunities for additional preparedness measures for future risk.
As communities around the world face various levels of restrictions and concern for large gatherings grow, supply chains are threatened and manufacturing grinds to a halt, vulnerability to climate impacts increases. If a devastating storm or wildfire forced residents from their homes into crowded evacuation centers, the typical damage, loss and public health costs would compound upon the danger and challenges already being faced due to COVID-19. Likewise, the costs of recovery from a climate disaster would be dire on top of the increasing economic uncertainty.
Similarly, as companies face the impacts of the pandemic, including adapting to remote work if possible, an extreme weather event would complicate their efforts. While office buildings and key facilities may be prepared with generators in case of power outages and water proofing for floods, business’ operations are now particularly dependent on public power and communication infrastructure, as well as the resilience of each employee’s home. In addition to the disruption if employees are ill, many businesses are more vulnerable to disruptions from climate hazards during this time, which in turn increases macroeconomic vulnerability. Of course, the pandemic itself has many multifaceted economic and business impacts.
Conclusion: Underscoring the Need for Resilience
COVID-19 has understandably pushed climate action to the back burner as the public health crisis unfolds and fears of a long-term economic recession are pressing. However, the ways policy-makers, business and individuals respond to today’s public health emergency and the resulting successes and failures may provide lessons for responding to other multifaceted disasters, applicable to extreme weather events and natural disasters. Likewise, the COVID-19 crisis may reinforce the value of preparedness for businesses and communities and help highlight opportunities to invest in adaptation and resilience.
Four Twenty Seven's monthly newsletter highlights recent developments on climate risk and resilience. This month we feature an analysis of the economic risks of wildfires, highlight a Moody's report on climate risk of US utilities and share recent action by central banks.
In Focus: Impacts of Australia's Bushfires
427 Analysis - What California's Wildfires May Foreshadow in Australia
The analysis discusses wide-ranging outcomes in real estate markets, ranging from Santa Rosa, CA's increasing housing costs and mini economic boom after the 2017 fires to Paradise, CA's transformation from a town of 26,000 to a town of 2,000 and nearby Chico's associated 20% population grown and real estate boom due to fire evacuees.
A municipality's ability to rebound after a fire is largely determined by insurance penetration, percent of housing stock lost and whether or not there was long-term emigration from the area. However, cities not themselves touched by flames are also affected, from evacuees to toxic smoke. Preparing for this new normal is challenging, with many considerations to balance. California's costly "Public Safety Power Shutoffs" in the Bay Area last fall highlight the progress that still needs to be made in developing effective preventative measures for wildfires.
Moody's Investors Service Analysis - US Regulated Electric Utilities Face Varied Exposure to Climate Hazards
Moody's new analysis leverages Four Twenty Seven's physical climate risk data to explore the exposure of regulated electric utilities to climate hazards, finding that there is varying exposure to climate risk which may be mitigated by adaptation. Changing temperature and humidity trends can lead to drastic changes in energy demand, while higher temperatures can reduce production capacity. These hazards are particularly prevalent in the Midwest and in southern Florida. Water stress is typically credit-negative for electric utilities which depend on water for cooling. Utilities in California and the Colorado River region are particularly exposed to water stress. The report highlights the utilities most exposed to these and other hazards, discusses the implications for their credit and emphasizes the importance of resilience investments to mitigate these risks.
New Warnings on the Material Risks of Climate Change
Financial Actors and Corporate Leaders Urged to Take Climate Seriously
While physical climate risks are expected to occur on a longer time frame than many credit maturities, recent extreme weather events have made banks and other financial actors increasingly aware of the need to factor physical climate risks into decision-making. In their article, "The Changing Climate of Credit Risk Management," Four Twenty Seven's Chief Development Officer, Frank Freitas and Moody's Head of Portfolio and Balance Sheet Research, Amnon Levy, also highlight that "as a rule, more than half a firm’s value can be attributed to cash flows beyond 20 or 30 years." This underscores the materiality of climate risks that become increasingly prominent in the next several years.
Central Banks Move on Climate Risk Analysis
Climate Change - The Green Swan
"Traditional backward-looking risk assessments and existing climate-economic models cannot anticipate accurately enough the form that climate-related risks will take. These include what we call 'green swan' risks: potentially extremely financially disruptive events that could be behind the next systemic financial crisis." The Bank for International Settlements in collaboration with the Banque de France, released a new book on climate change, financial stability & the role of central banks.
Bank of England Consultation Paper on Climate Risk Scenarios
The Bank of England announced plans to integrate transition and physical climate risk into its Biennial Exploratory Scenario exercise in 2021. Building on the climate risk stress test for insurers released last year, this exercise will apply to both banks and insurers in 2021. The Bank welcomes feedback on its approach by March 18, 2020.
The French Central Bank's Climate Risk Stress Tests
During this webinar, FourTwenty Seven Senior Analyst, Lindsay Ross, will provide a demo of Four Twenty Seven’s on-demand physical climate risk application. Register here.
Inside the Office at Four Twenty Seven
Meet Controller, Yang Jing
Four Twenty Seven welcomes Yang as Controller. Yang implements efficient processes and policies in compliance with US and international accounting standards and Moody’s accounting policies. She is a Senior Vice President in Accounting for Moody’s, where she works with business leaders to ensure compliance with SEC and international accounting regulations while providing near real-time financial data to enable executive decision-making.
Join the Team! Four Twenty Seven is Hiring
There are several opportunities to join Four Twenty Seven's dynamic team in offices across the U.S. and Europe. See the open positions below and visit our Careers page for more information.
Climate Risk Analyst with expertise in translating applied climate change science for a wide range of stakeholders
Regional Sales Directors (North America and United Kingdom), with extensive experience selling and supporting data products and services for large commercial, financial and government institutions
January 29, 2020 – 427 ANALYSIS. As Australia’s bushfires rage on, questions arise on the long-term impacts on human health, biodiversity and the economy. This analysis shares lessons learned from the recovery from recent wildfires in California to offer some pointers of what might happen when the bushfires finally subside. While immediate economic impacts include emergency relief bills, business interruptions, costly loss of goods and reduction in tourism, the long-term impacts vary based on municipalities’ financial resources, economic make-up and preparedness.
Real Estate Markets
Over the past three years wildfires have razed thousands of buildings across California, destroying multiple communities. The impacts on real estate markets varies depending on the share of properties destroyed in a local community, as well as insurance penetration. After five percent of Santa Rosa’s housing stock burned in 2017, the city experienced an increase in property prices and rents following the fire: displaced households needed new dwellings, construction workers and emergency relief officials needed housing and amenities, and local businesses found new clientele. Although an estimated 3,300 people left Sonoma County after the 2017 fires, in Santa Rosa, CA, rebuilding has occurred more rapidly than expected. The areas affected by the fires had relatively high insurance rates, and families were able to pay for the reconstruction of their houses. Irreplaceable personal items were lost, but the city experienced a mini-economic boom due to construction in the area.
In contrast, the city of Paradise went from 26,000 residents before the Camp Fire down to 2,000. More than one year later, only a handful of houses have been rebuilt, and many residents struggle with whether they should move back. Insurance penetration was much lower in Paradise, and many low-income households cannot afford to rebuild their lives there.
Aside from short-term shortages in housing stock, long-term impacts on real estate and local economies depend on two main factors: whether the area experienced a permanent or long-term population loss, and whether insurance companies continue to offer policies for the area. This phenomenon has also been at play after other climate-related events, such as when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. The storm led to a four percent decrease in the island’s population.
Impacts can also indirectly touch other communities near wildfires: the same Camp Fire that devastated Paradise narrowly missed the neighboring city of Chico, CA. While Paradise’s economy has yet to recover, within three months of the fire, Chico’s population grew by 20%, with the addition of about 20,000 people. While Chico became the nation’s hottest real estate market the month after the fire, it also missed relief funds offered to towns touched by flames. From a sewer system now tasked with transporting 600,000 more gallons per day, to the need for more police force and a higher hospital demand, a year after the event, the city struggled to accommodate a population the city planners hadn’t expected for a decade.
In California, the biggest impact was on the utility sector. As power lines and electric equipment were found to have started the wildfires, the liability ultimately resulted in Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) bankruptcy, coined “the first climate-change bankruptcy.” In Australia fires are most often started by dry lightning so utilities are not so exposed to liability risk, but may still be exposed to significant costs from disruptions and repairs associated with wildfires.
Beyond utilities and insurance, businesses across sectors face several short-term risks from wildfires, including business interruptions, labor shortages and reduced consumer activity due to evacuations or smoke which can affect urban centers not themselves touched by flames. Businesses may also face increased costs due to equipment and property damage or loss. In the long term, recurring wildfires could decrease attractiveness of certain parts of Australia, which would reduce companies’ hiring pool and decrease tourism revenues.
Residents’ decisions to stay in a recovering area is largely affected by whether insurance companies choose to provide coverage or pull out after wildfires. This in turn, is a key factor in the viability of long-term development and the strength of cities’ tax bases. Faced with potential population loss, local governments may attempt to provide public insurance if private insurers leave a city or region, such as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in the U.S. However, as seen with the NFIP, this mechanism can lead to unsustainable development and a moral hazard, encouraging unwise economic decisions by shifting risks from the individual buying property, to the government and therefore the public.
The desire to help an area rebuild needs to be balanced against a forward-looking perspective on the new realities of climate change. As temperatures increase, droughts become more common and wildfire conditions become more frequent, climate change will make some areas no longer suitable for human settlement. In California some insurers have stopped offering wildfire insurance to certain fire-prone counties. After careful deliberation the state recommended the creation of a Wildfire Victims Fund to help pay claims to wildfire victims, while also supporting wildfire mitigation. However, this comes alongside recommendations to require home and community fire risk reduction standards, establish a development fee for new construction in the wildland-urban interface, and mandate that new development must be reachable by firefighters within a maximum amount of time.
The impact of wildfires on a city’s credit rating may also affect its economic prospects after an event. Issuers in Sonoma County were not downgraded after the 2017 fires, because of their strong credit quality, insurance coverage, commitment to rebuilding and long-term economic viability. The County has an emergency reserve fund, which helped make up the shortfall in property taxes for destroyed properties, assuaging any concern from rating agencies on their balance sheet post-disaster.
Suburban wildfire smoke is particularly dangerous because burning gas stations, buildings, cars and other man-made materials releases many toxins, along with tiny PM 2.5 particles. The long-term impacts of inhaling countless chemicals are not yet fully understood but will likely exacerbate the well-documented damage to lungs and hearts caused by PM 2.5 particles. As public health costs increase, municipalities’ expenses may rise and human productivity may decline, posing additional risk to economies and communities made fragile by wildfire.
As climate change increases the occurrences of wildfires across the globe, policymakers and communities will need to balance these considerations and invest in adaptation and resilience to limit the impact of future fires.
Four Twenty Seven works with investors and businesses to provide portfolio hotpot screenings and real time due diligence with site-specific data on heat stress, water stress and other climate risks. Wildfire analytics are forthcoming. Contact us for more detailed analysis and site-specific data on climate risk exposure and its economic impacts.
FEBRUARY 19, 2019 – SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – Four Twenty Seven receives Climate Change Business Journal Awards for three climate change risk and resilience projects.
The Climate Change Business Journal (CCBJ) released its 10th annual CCBJ Business Achievement Awards, recognizing outstanding business performance in the climate change industry. CCBJ assesses markets and business opportunities across the emerging climate change industry and acknowledged Four Twenty Seven’s contributions to this field through our global dataset on climate risk in real estate, the development of the California Heat Assessment Tool and our contribution to the EBRD-GCECA initiative on Advancing TCFD Guidance on Physical Climate Risks and Opportunities.
The California Heat Assessment Tool (CHAT) earned the Project Merit: Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience award for its innovative approach to helping public health officials, health professionals and residents understand what changing heat wave conditions mean for them, through a free online platform. CHAT is part of California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, a state-mandated research program to assess climate change impacts in California, and was developed by Four Twenty Seven, Argos Analytics, the Public Health Institute and Habitat 7 with technical support from the California Department of Public Health.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Global Centre of Excellence on Climate Adaptation initiative on Advancing the TCFD Recommendations on Physical Climate Risks and Opportunities earned the Advancing Best Practices: Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience award. This project culminated in a conference and report building on Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) recommendations and providing common foundations for the disclosure of climate-related physical risks and opportunities. It identifies where further research or market action is needed so that detailed, consistent, industry-specific guidelines can be developed on the methodology for quantifying and reporting these risks and opportunities. Four Twenty Seven and Acclimatise provided the technical secretariat that led the working groups and authored the report.
Four Twenty Seven's monthly newsletter highlights recent developments in climate adaptation and resilience. This month, don't miss the new California Heat Assessment Tool, funding opportunities for risk mitigation and a preview of resilience events at upcoming conferences!
In Focus: Health-based Heat Projections
Four Twenty Seven tool developed under California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment identifies regions most vulnerable to extreme heat
The California Heat Assessment Tool helps identify neighborhoods with populations vulnerable to heat and overlays projections for heat events likely to cause health impacts. This new research establishes local, health-based thresholds for extreme heat that help public officials, health professionals and residents understand what changing conditions mean for them. The tool can be searched by city, county or zip code and provides data at the census tract level.
Four Twenty Seven developed the tool with funding from the California Natural Resources Agency, in partnership with Argos Analytics, the Public Health Institute and Habitat Seve, and technical support from the California Department of Public Health.
California Releases Fourth Climate Change Assessment
“In California, facts and science still matter,” said Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. “These findings are profoundly serious and will continue to guide us as we confront the apocalyptic threat of irreversible climate change.”
"State energy officials said the assessment underscores the urgent need not only for swift global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions but also local actions to protect California from warming that’s already threatening people, natural resources and infrastructure." The Los Angeles Times reports.
“We’re seeing that in the fire situation, we’re seeing that in sea level rise, we’re seeing that in heat spells, in declining snowpack,” said California Energy Commission Chairman Robert Weisenmiller. “The climate is changing now so we need to be adapting our communities.”
Four Twenty Seven at GCAS and PRI
Join our GCAS side event on Sept. 11 in San Francisco
Safeguarding local infrastructure, businesses and the economies they support requires an understanding of the interconnected nature of the climate vulnerabilities of communities, businesses and financial institutions.
This affiliate side event, hosted by Four Twenty Seven, will feature investor, business and government thought leaders to discuss cutting edge projects and collaboration to build community and economic resilience. From 8:30-11:30am on Sept. 11 at Arup.
This is a free invite-only event with limited capacity. Please express interest to be added to the list and we will review and confirm your registration shortly.
September 13 from 9:30am-1:30pm: Climate Resilience & Adaptation Investment: Emilie Mazzacurati joins a panel on "Climate Resilience Investment Risks and Metrics". Hosted by Lightsmith Group and WillisTowersWatson. Invite-only.
Looking for other applicable events? We've compiled a list of resilience-related side events that are pertinent for investors, corporations and communities. Browse our Google Doc, updated on an ongoing basis, to spot the most interesting side events on climate risk and climate science. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like your event to be included in our curated list.
Today from 2:55-4:10pm: Director of Advisory Services, Yoon Kim, will moderate a panel on "Heat Resilient Transit and Cool Streets."
Today from 4:25-5:50pm: Yoon will moderate a panel,"Who Pays? The Implications of Liability, Insurance, And Credit Ratings on Adaptation Finance."
Wednesday from 9:30-10:45am: Manager, Advisory Services, Kendall Starkman will moderate a panel, "From Idea to Action: Mobilizing Adaptation Implementation Through Partnerships."
Wednesday at 1:30pm: Kendall will speak at the event, "ASAP Members Lead the Transfer of Adaptation Takeaways to GCAS tomorrow at 1:30pm.Editor, Natalie Ambrosio, will speak at the annual in-person ASAP meeting during the second half of this session.
Funding Opportunities to Build Resilience
Several funding opportunities for hazard mitigation projects in California
PDM and FMA Funding Opportunities:There is $235,200,000 nationwide for the PDM Program and $160,000,000 nationwide for the FMA Program, which provide funding for the development of local hazard mitigation plans (LHMPs) and implementation of hazard mitigation projects.The Notice of Interest for both grants is due by September 4, 2018. For more information visit Cal OES or email PDFM@caloes.ca.gov.
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) – DR-4382 funding opportunity: HMGP funding is available statewide for any eligible mitigation activity. Eligible activities also include Climate Resilient Mitigation Actions (CRMAs), such as actions supporting aquifer storage and recovery, flood diversion and storage, floodplain and stream restoration, and green infrastructure methods. More info forthcoming on Cal OES. Or contact HMGP@caloes.ca.gov for more information.
Join the Four Twenty Seven team in the field at these upcoming events:
September 11 - Building Community and Economic Resilience: San Francisco, CA: Four Twenty Seven will host a side event alongside the Global Climate Action Summit on Sept 11 to discuss the role of investors, businesses and governments in contributing to climate-resilient cities and infrastructure. Express interest.
September 12-14 – PRI in Person, San Francisco, CA: Visit the Four Twenty Seven booth and meet with our team at this annual gathering of responsible investment industry leaders. More details above.
September 12-14 – Global Climate Action Summit, San Francisco, CA: CEO Emilie Mazzacurati to speak at a session on resilience in this convening of global leaders meant to propel action around the Paris Agreement. More details above.
September 24-26 – 2018 Great Lakes Adaptation Forum, Ann Arbor, MI: Director of Advisory Services, Yoon Kim, will join this gathering of practitioners and scholars dedicated to building regional resilience.
September 24-30 – Climate Week NYC, New York, NY: Senior Analyst, Lindsay Ross, will join discussions around physical climate risk and resilience at this annual event.
October 4 – Japan Electronic Trading Conference 2018, Tokyo, Japan: CEO Emilie Mazzacurati will speak about how physical climate risk affects investing strategies at this gathering of the FIX Trading Community.
October 8-11 – ULI Fall Meeting, Boston, MA: Founder & CEO, Emilie Mazzacurati to join a panel on assessing climate risk in the real estate industry.
October 8-12 – Paris InfraWeek, Paris, France: Director, Europe, Nathalie Borgeaud, will join this discussion of recent developments in infrastructure finance.
October 15 - Deutsche Bank ESG Summit, Boston, MA. COO Colin Shaw will join a panel on climate risk in equities. Invitation-only.
October 16-18 – Verge 18, Oakland, CA: Yoon Kim will join this convening focused on developing a resilient, green economy.
October 23-26 – SOCAP18, San Francisco, CA: Members of the Four Twenty Seven team will participate in the annual Social Capital Markets conference.
November 26-28 – UNEP FI Global Roundtable & Climate Finance Day, Paris, France: Emilie Mazzacurati and Nathalie Borgeaud will participate in these two evens dedicated to mobilizing the financial sector to create a sustainable financial system.
December 3-14 – COP24, Katowice, Poland: Nathalie Borgeaud and Yoon Kim will attend the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and participate in side events.
December 5-6 – RI Americas, New York, NY: Emilie Mazzacurati to join a panel on climate risk in real estate markets. Visit the Four Twenty Seven booth.
December 10-14 – AGU Fall Meeting, Washington, DC: Director of Analytics, Nik Steinberg, Senior Data Analyst, Josh Turner and Lindsay Ross will join this annual convening of the Earth and space sciences community.
Our mailing address is:
Four Twenty Seven
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Berkeley, CA 94709